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Spotlight: Dwayne Bowe

posted by Mark Wimer on Jul 27th


Mark Wimer's thoughts

Dwayne Bowe got his head screwed on straight last season (16 games played, 131 targets for 72/1,162/15 receiving) after having an acrimonious relationship with Todd Haley and his coaching staff previously. Bowe's dominant 2010 season was highlighted by an NFL best 15 touchdowns, and ultimately ended with a top 5 fantasy ranking.

Bowe helped QB Matt Cassel find redemption last season, too. Cassel went from 16 TDs and 16 interceptions during 2009 to 27 TDs with just seven interceptions thrown last year. Even though the run-heavy Chiefs finished just 30th in passing yardage, the team was an impressive 10th in receiving TDs thanks to Bowe's ability to overpower defensive backs - and Cassel's willingness to throw it up for grabs having the trust in Bowe to come down with the pigskin.

The Jonathan Baldwin Effect
Faced with the aging mediocrity of Chris Chambers and a dearth of talent behind Bowe, Chambers and slot receiver Dexter McCluster, the Chiefs went into the NFL Draft with a glaring need and filled it by snatching up Jonathan Baldwin (6'4", 228 lbs.) with the 26th pick in the first round. Baldwin is a big, lanky guy who may eat into Bowe's red zone chances during 2011, though Baldwin hasn't yet displayed the necessary focus and consistency required to shine at the NFL level. There is no question he is penciled in to play across from Bowe, though - we'll have to see how quickly Baldwin can pick up the pro game with an abbreviated set of practice sessions thanks to the 2011 labor stoppage.

The Weis Effect
As was well-publicized at the end of last year, head coach Haley and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis didn't get along well, and that played a part in Weis' departure after just one season for the University of Florida. As Weis is considered a quarterback guru, there are worries that Cassel may regress this year. Bill Muir was promoted from within from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator, but he has previous experience as an offensive coordinator/offensive line coach (in Tampa Bay, where the team won three division crowns and a Super Bowl XXXVII championship during Muir's time). "Coach Muir has been a big part of what we've been able to do as an offense, so I'm excited about him taking over the coordinator role," Cassel said in February. "As a quarterback and as an offense, continuity is important, and having someone with Coach Muir's experience will help us continue to move forward in the right direction." Hopefully Cassel is correct and the continuity provided by Muir will keep Cassel and Bowe on the same page during 2011 - but understand that Muir was considered a "by the numbers" conservative OC in Tampa, which is exactly the opposite of Weis' aggressive nature.

The Tougher Schedule Effect
One additional worry for Bowe (and all the other Chiefs) is that they face a 1st place schedule this year. The schedule looks particularly brutal from Weeks 11 through 15, with KC going to New England, hosting Pittsburgh, visiting Chicago and then the New York Jets before returning home to face Green Bay in Week 15. Bowe and Cassel have a tough road in November and December, when fantasy playoffs are being decided. Great players rise to meet tough challenges, but there a lot of great players on New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, NYJ and Green Bay, too.

Positives

  • Bowe is the clear-cut #1 wide receiver on the depth chart, and he was very simpatico with Cassel last year
  • Bowe has matured over the past two seasons and seems focused on football entering 2011
  • Bowe turns 27 in September - he's in his prime

Negatives

  • Jonathan Baldwin's presence may cut into Bowe's scoring chances
  • Turmoil at the offensive coordinator position may negatively impact the passing game
  • The Chiefs have a very tough road to the playoffs during November and December which may hold down their offensive production just when fantasy owners need it most

Final thoughts

I'm in line with conventional wisdom it seems, ranking Bowe 12th (as of late July) against a consensus 11th ranking by my peers. Expecting 15 TDs again this year is way too optimistic (predicting TD totals from year to year is very difficult, but 15 is a monster number - it isn't unreasonable to expect regression from such a lofty total), so Bowe realistically needs to catch more passes and rack up more yards just to hold his value. Bowe should push for borderline #1 numbers this year, but you shouldn't overpay for him if someone is convinced he has another Top 5 performance looming.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

King of the Jungle said:

I find it interesting that he played all 16 games, had TWO 13 catch games, and only managed 72 catches on the year. Add Baldwin and a staff that wants to get McCluster more involved and I think you will once again be relying on touchdowns. I don't have any projections but will be avoiding him at his ADP.

Stinkin Ref said:

I think this is one of those situations where you let somebody else in your league take him. I am a huge KC fan but I am very pessimistic heading into this season. I think you will not see what you saw out of Bowe and Cassel last year. The whole team was a nice story last year and great for us KC fans who have been beaten up for the last several years. However, that schedule last year was cake. This year it is brutal (check weeks 11-15). Let others in your league chase last years stats with these guys, even Charles a little for that matter. I hope I am wrong, but I just have a feeling it will be a long year and the fantasy production will suffer across the board. I don't hink Cassel is the long term answer and he will be more like what we saw two years ago instead of last year. I would honestly put Bowe as a low end WR2 and a decent WR3 this year. Either way it doesn't really matter because he will be on zero of my fanatsy teams.

I don't normally let shedules dictate my drafting, but again, check that schedule week 11-15 and tell me you want to count on starting Bowe at the end of your regular season and beginning of your playoff season.

bigmiiiike said:

Bowe didn't even really come on until week 6. While his TD #s may be heard to replicate, his catches and yards stats from last year were not out of this world. Most of the FF world has been high on Bowe's talent since he was drafted, and things were finally falling into place over the last 2/3 of last season. I think Bowe builds on that, rather than regresses (except for TDs). Baldwin will be a developing player who won't eat into his #s significantly, and having another year in this offense and with Cassel should only benefit him.


Dwayne Bowe projections

RECRECYDRECTDRSHYDRSHTD
Mark Wimer751150800
Message board consensus7611291000